CenturyLink problems? Here’s how to know if it’s time to switch
By on in Broadband
CenturyLink has an extensive global fiber and DSL network. It provides services to residential and business customers and is the third largest DSL provider in the U.S. offering service in 39 states. Residential services include high-speed internet and home phone service.
Unfortunately, CenturyLink was ranked 17th in a special report on America’s top 20 most-hated companies in 2018 published by 24/7 Wall St. Its ranking was due to customer service problems. If you’re one of the CenturyLink customers who isn’t happy with the company, current plan or service, you’re receiving, it may be time for a change.
If you’re experiencing problems with CenturyLink, this guide will help you determine if it’s time to switch to a new internet provider or internet plan.
CenturyLink internet plans
If you need faster speeds, want to save money by downgrading your plan or just aren’t happy with your current plan, you might want to just swap to a different one. If you’re a current CenturyLink customer looking to change your plan, here are their options:
- Speed: Different plan levels up to 100 Mbps
- Price: $49 per month
- Good for: Email, browsing, streaming HD, online gaming. If you really want to ramp up your bandwidth or have more people joining your household, switching to the fiber plan below could be an option.
- Speed: Up to 940 Mbps
- Price: $65 per month
- Good for: Streaming 4K, online gaming, large file downloads, multiple simultaneous users. Many people don’t need this kind of speed, so if you’re looking to save some money by downgrading your speeds, consider switching to the DSL package.
Having issues with your speeds and want to upgrade? CenturyLink speeds come in two categories: DSL speeds and fiber-optic speeds.
CenturyLink’s DSL offering includes their Price for Life guarantee meaning your rate won’t go up as long as you remain with the service. The speed ranges up to 100 Mbps, but not all speeds are available in all areas. At this speed, you can typically have more than one user connected at the same time, play online games and stream HD media, though performance will diminish as you add simultaneous devices.
The company calls its fiber-optic offering Fiber Gigabit. This plan has speeds up to 940 Mbps, which is almost one gigabyte of data transfer speed. Again, this plan may not be available in all areas, and all speeds may not be available at all times. This plan is great for large households and allows you to connect multiple high-bandwidth users and stream multiple HD movies while online gaming.
Testing speeds with the CenturyLink speed test
CenturyLink offers an internet speed test on their website. Its purpose is to tell you how fast your upload and download speeds are. When you start the speed test, it sends information to the closest CenturyLink server and measures how long it takes the server to confirm that it received the information. That measures your upload speed, or going from your computer to theirs.
The test will then open connections from their server to send information back to your device, which will measure your download speed.
The results of the test will tell you if you have the speed stated for your plan, and if you have the right speed to support your online activities. According to FCC standards, these are the minimum speed requirements for several activities:
- Browsing, email, social media, standard video call: 1 Mbps
- Streaming high definition video: 5 to 8 Mbps
- Using a game console connected to the internet: 3 Mbps
- File downloading: 10 Mbps
- Telecommuting: 5 to 25 Mbps
Keep in mind these are only minimum requirements that may not be fast enough when you’re actually using the internet. These speed requirements also assume that you’re only doing one thing at a time. Most people have multiple devices using the same internet connection, often at the same time.
When you’re evaluating your service with CenturyLink, price is definitely a factor. CenturyLink plans come with WiFi service and CenturyLink @Ease, a program that protects against identity theft. Bundle pricing is available for combining internet and home phone service. You can also combine internet and DISH TV, but there is no price discount for the DISH plans.
The DSL internet plan costs $49 per month, and with the Price for Life feature, the price won’t change as long as you keep your account. There are no contracts; you just pay for the plan on a monthly basis. Fiber Gigabit is $65 per month and it doesn’t require a contract, however there is no Price for Life feature for this plan.
CenturyLink data caps
There is a cap on residential usage, although CenturyLink uses the term Excessive Use to describe situations where a residential customer on the Price for Life plan consumes more than the 1 TB monthly limit. Customers on the Fiber Gigabit plan don’t have a data cap.
If you go over the 1 TB limit, CenturyLink will give you time to reduce your usage or upgrade to a different plan. If you continue to go over the limit, CenturyLink can disconnect your service. Some companies don’t have data caps (especially with their fiber plans), so check availability in your area for other companies who have no cap.
CenturyLink offers email as part of its internet service. Users can use a primary account and up to ten additional email accounts. You can use a CenturyLink login from their website to check your CenturyLink email or set up the email to work with other popular email programs like Gmail.
If you’re planning to switch from CenturyLink, make sure you backup your email data and connect your new account to the email client of your choice once you’ve made the switch.
CenturyLink bill pay
If you’re having any billing issues with CenturyLink, there are some ways to make it easier and more automated. You can pay your CenturyLink bill in several ways and use paperless billing.
If you pay your bill using your account at My CenturyLink or the Quick Bill Pay service, you can use a checking or savings account, a debit card or credit card. There is a small fee if you use a credit or debit card. You can avoid that fee by registering for the AutoPay feature which allows CenturyLink to pay your bill automatically each month, taking the payment from the source you specify. You can also make one-time payments using My CenturyLink or the Quick Bill Pay service using a checking account as the payment source.
CenturyLink customer service
Needing immediate help with your service? One way to get CenturyLink tech support is to use the online help center, which offers an internet speed test, service troubleshooter and arrival information if a technician is scheduled to come to your home. There are also help articles on a variety of topics.
You can use online chat, a trouble ticket system and contact telephone numbers. If you’re having issues with CenturyLink, tech support is often a likely cause. Based on customer reviews, CenturyLink tech support has a very poor reputation.
If you’re considering sticking with CenturyLink, here are the positive things about their service:
- Plans promote fast speeds
- No long-term contracts are necessary
- The CenturyLink Price for Life option offers a guaranteed price
- No overage charges for going beyond plan data limits
- 24/7 tech support is available
You also need to consider the negative aspects, especially if you’re unhappy with your current CenturyLink experience:
- Speed availability isn’t consistent; customers complain of speeds far below the stated speed for their plan
- The Price for Life plan isn’t available in all states
- Fees are a sore point with many customers when they see a variety of additional fees increasing their monthly bill
- Negative reviews for CenturyLink far outweigh the positive reviews
Overall, CenturyLink has a poor record of customer satisfaction. For example, the ConsumerAffairs.com website has over 2,500 customer reviews for CenturyLink in the last year. The overall rating is 3.5 out of five stars. While some reviews praise individual CenturyLink employees, the negative reviews address a number of issues regarding billing, speeds and additional fees.
Trustpilot.com has 280 reviews for CenturyLink with a rating of one star out of five for speed and reliability issues.
Customers consistently report problems with CenturyLink outages. The website DownDetector.com tracks outages for a large number of companies, including internet service providers such as AT&T, Cox and CenturyLink and rates CenturyLink two out of five stars for reported outages.
In 2019, CenturyLink experienced a nationwide outage that affected over 20 million customers in 39 states. In addition to lack of internet service, at least 886 calls to 911 did not go through. The FCC issued a report that stated that equipment failure in conjunction with a network configuration error caused the 37-hour outage.
How to cancel CenturyLink
CenturyLink doesn’t charge a fee for cancellation due to their no-contract policy. You can cancel your service at any time. If you have a package bundled with DIRECTV, you’ll need to contact DIRECTV to cancel that service. Closing your account can take one or more billing cycles, so it’s best to make sure you paid your most recent bill and return all leased equipment as quickly as you can.
Your closing bill will show the status of your account. If you paid deposits when you opened your account, that deposit and any accrued interest will reduce the amount of your final bill. If your account shows a credit, you’ll receive a check with your final bill.
Finding the right internet provider for you
CenturyLink isn’t for everyone. If you’re at a point where you’d like to cancel CenturyLink, it’s a good idea to investigate whether there’s a provider in your area that will fit your needs better. Visit ISP.com to find out. Just enter your ZIP code, and you’ll see a list of providers that serve your area.